French pharma company Sanofi has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Translate Bio, gaining mRNA technology to use across its vaccines and therapeutics development.

Under the terms of the agreement, Sanofi will acquire Translate Bio for approximately $3.2bn, or $38.00 per share in cash. While the deal is still subject to customary closing conditions, the Sanofi and Translate Bio boards of directors have unanimously approved the transaction.

Translate Bio’s chief executive officer Ronald Renaud and the mRNA therapeutics company’s largest shareholder The Baupost Group have also signed binding commitments in support of the tender offer.

Sanofi and Translate Bio have been in partnership since June 2018, when they entered a collaboration and exclusive license agreement to develop mRNA-based vaccines.

Two years later, in the midst of the pandemic, they expanded this agreement to broadly address current and future infectious diseases – including COVID-19.

Currently, Sanofi and Translate have two ongoing mRNA vaccine clinical trials under the collaboration, including a Phase I/II COVID-19 vaccine study with results expected in the third quarter of 2021 and a Phase I mRNA seasonal flu vaccine, which is expected to yield results in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Sanofi is also primed to gain Translate Bio’s therapeutics portfolio, which includes an early-stage pipeline of assets in cystic fibrosis and other rare pulmonary diseases.

Translate Bio is also undertaking discovery work in diseases affecting the liver, with its MRT platform having applicability for various treatment classes such as therapeutic antibodies or vaccines in oncology.

“Translate Bio adds an mRNA technology platform and strong capabilities to our research, further advancing our ability to explore the promise of this technology to develop both best-in-class vaccines and therapeutics,” said Paul Hudson, chief executive officer of Sanofi.

“A fully owned platform allows us to develop additional opportunities in the fast-evolving mRNA space. We will also be able to accelerate our existing partnered programs already under development. Our goal is to unlock the potential of mRNA in other strategic areas such as immunology, oncology, and rare diseases in addition to vaccines,” he added.

The acquisition aligns with Sanofi's previous announcement that it will invest €400m annually into a new facility focused solely on the development and delivery of next-generation mRNA-based vaccines.

The mRNA ‘centre of excellence’ will employee approximately 400 staff in a bid to integrate end-to-end mRNA vaccine capabilities.